After twenty minutes of play there looked to be little difference between the UMass team playing against Bemidji State and the one who lost their last three games to end the first half. The team didn’t play entirely poorly but just seemed to be going through the motions, not reaching the type of intensity needed to win a division I hockey game. They went into the first intermission down 2-0 and looking like they were heading for a loss and the consolation game today.
Whatever was said or done in the locker room made all the difference though and the team came out flying in the second. Offensively the team woke up, generating 18 shots in the 2nd period alone. The defense responded as well, allowing just five shots for the Beavers, all of which were stopped by Kevin Boyle who played solid in net. The result of the second period push was UMass scoring three times and gaining a 3-2 advantage.
The Minutemen would seal the game with a fourth goal in the third, though Bemidji made it interesting at the end when they cut the lead to one with an extra attacker in the final minutes. UMass got solid play from most during the game. It was the play of the defense though who never really allowed BSU back into the game once UMass got the lead. The fourth line of Zack LaRue, Eddie Olczyk, and Pat Kiley played with energy throughout. It was good to see Darren Rowe get back on the scoresheet after being without a goal since the early part of the season. The top line of Mike Pereira, Branden Gracel, and Conor Sheary started the scoring going early in the second. It’s essential for those three guys to produce during the second half of the season. Shane Walsh played particularly well, notching an assist.
The team will now play for the tournament championship tonight against the host Dartmouth College, who beat rival UNH 4-1 in a matchup of top ten teams. UMass goes for just their second in-season tournament championship ever, with the other being the Lightning College Classic in 2007.
Fear The Triangle Player of the Game
Zack LaRue’s first collegiate goal ended up being the game winner. He played well throughout the game, despite being on the short end of a bad goaltender interference call, and ended up a +1 on the night.